There’s never a roster that’s full of guarantees. Each college football season will see new faces, new concepts, and new players emerging. For UCF Football and its offensive talent, there’s a lot to like heading into the 2021 season.
With Dillon Gabriel back for his junior season, the Hawaiian gunslinger will be expected to lead the passing attack and surpass 3,000 yards through the air. What about Gabriel’s backup? Will there be any movement with the quarterback depth chart beyond Gabriel? Those are the types of questions that the UCF Football coaching staff will need answers about as we head into fall camp for the 2021 season.
Here are a few key questions for each offensive position group. For each position, there’s an initial question that is a truly important focal point for the Knights’ offense this fall, and it leads into subsequent questions that will be addressed regarding what will need to happen for each position to be successful in 2021.
Everyone knows about Gabriel that follows the Knights. Great player; unquestioned. Will there be a time that Gabriel needs to come out of the lineup, and if so, which UCF quarterback steps into the lineup and leads the offense? This question is more difficult to answer with UCF Head Coach Gus Malzahn being in his first year in Orlando, as there’s no precedence for what he will do beyond the little bit of knowledge gained from spring practice. Beyond that question, it will be interesting to see how much Gabriel takes off and runs this season, as Coach Malzahn’s signal callers generally run quite a bit.
There is a large depth chart that currently looks more like a spider web of possibilities than an actual depth chart. Which running back takes the lead and becomes the primary ball carrier? Then again, does it become a situation of running back by committee? Plenty of additional questions within the podcast below.
Talent galore. Now, which wide receivers find specific niches that help the Knights win? There are several really good football players that will line up at wide receiver for UCF, but the little details of blocking for one another, how the transfers adapt and help the wide receiver core, and which wide receiver(s) will be able to be counted on in clutch situations still need to develop. Even with speed out wide like Ryan O'Keefe and Jaylon Robinson, the Knights need some of the transfers and younger wide receivers to make significant contributions; that includes blocking for one another.
From all the position groups, this one holds the fewest answers. There’s the incumbent with Jake Hescock, and his leadership and experience will be counted on to make plays in the passing game as well as help less experienced players learn the craft of being a college football tight end. Which tight ends specifically step up, however? Does UCF possess a depth chart where two, or even three wide receiver sets near the goal line come into play? Those questions will probably need to work themselves out during fall camp and into the early portion of the 2021 season.
From the entire offensive side of the football, the big fellas should be placed in the middle of the pack when it comes to experience, but with so many transfers coming to UCF, the offensive line is likely the second most experienced group beyond quarterback. There should not be issues up front with the starters, but how will the unit look if anyone goes down due to injury?
Further, will the UCF offensive coaching staff move a player like Sam Jackson, who's played four positions for the Knights, to help bring in an inexperienced offensive lineman to the lineup? This could be done, even if for only a series or two, to help that young and/or inexperienced player gain experience.
With an offensive line, the unit attempts to move as one, not five individuals. Chemistry will be a key for every college football offensive line, and UCF is no exception. Thus, there needs to be a sixth and even a seventh player that Coach Malzahn and his staff will feel comfortable placing into the lineup, if a situation arises where a substitution will be needed.
Here’s the traditional podcast that goes into depth about each UCF offensive position group: